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Thread: Top 10 Essential Opera DVDs/Blu-rays

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    Senior Member LouisMasterMusic's Avatar
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    Default Top 10 Essential Opera DVDs/Blu-rays

    Hi all

    For my next purchase, I'd like you to help me out by recommending your top 10 dvds/blu-rays of opera and operetta. Please bear in mind the following points:

    1) No Wagner
    2) Massive Jonas Kaufmann fan (am interested in his Otello), love Rolando Villazon (but already own his Alfredo and Des Grieux), and Placido Domingo's tenor roles
    3) Prefer operas that are melody-filled with intense drama. rather than late 20th century atonal (no Schoenberg)

    Of whatever you choose, I will select 5 for now, and then the next 5 on another occasion. I'll have to go at my own pace. (Please post links and/or images from amazon.co.uk

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by LouisMasterMusic; Aug-28-2021 at 23:22.

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    Lost me at massive Jonas Kaufmann fan, I heard him in Otello, he's no Otello.

    Probably a good Domingo Otello and the del Monaco Japanese performance with Gobbi.

    If you can find it, the Trittico from the Met with Scotto

    Hard not to have ariadne auf Naxos, I like the Boehm/Janowitz but the met Levine/Norman/Battle is pretty fine

    Berlioz, Les Troyens, I guess Gardiner

    Kleiber or von Karajan Rosenkavalier

    Rameau Les Boreades

    Debussy pelleas et melisande, even the Le Roux/Van Dam television film will do

    muti Alvarez Don Giovanni

    Pelly production, rohrer conducting, Il Barbiere di siviglia

    Rysanek/Boehm Goetz production, Elektra

    Peter Grimes, Davis and Vickers

    and what I think is the greatest opera on film, the Caballe/Vickers Norma from the Theatre d'Orange

    10 is a very hard number to count

    Falstaff, Muti from La Scala
    Last edited by mparta; Aug-29-2021 at 00:03.

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    I would not say this is essential, but for a Jonas fan, you get a very young Jonas in this one. I found the entire production quite enjoyable. And you get to watch Cecilia Bartoli act totally insane, flailing around on the floor beating flowers on the ground and stuffing them in her mouth.
    Paisiello's Nina, o sia La pazza per amore with Bartoli and Kaufmann.

    Here is a short video clip featuring Jonas.

    Whole opera here on video.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Aug-29-2021 at 02:29.
    “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent look guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses.”
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    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    It’s hard to choose essential videos _ I chose those that I’d like to see over and over again.
    I like traditional stagings, great singersand conductors, and great productions. If you prefer modern stagings with singers in street clothes or long coats, look:elsewhere!
    8C2399C6-17C9-4507-9026-561B480B109C.jpeg
    Teresa Stratas looks and sounds like the teenager Salome that Richard Strauss envisioned. Since this is a film, the soprano didn’t have to contend with a mammoth orchestra.
    83D17DE8-97D4-431E-B732-0E4EB579E4FE.jpeg
    To me, this is the perfect staging of Cosi Fan Tutte, Mozart’s first, second, or third perfect opera. I love the unfussy but not regie staging, evocative and still traditional mis en scene.

    5D820B97-6547-4E92-9D5C-20FCF7647F4E.jpeg
    Leonie Rysanekmis a powerhouse Elektra, in a very wet film - her companions do her total justice. You’ll be exhausted at the end, which is just what a great performance of this opera demands.

    C8D70A27-B058-46BB-85EF-389C0416391D.jpeg
    This is an almost perfect staging of Der Rosenkavalier conducted by a great Straussian with an unmatched cast. No newer staging can compete. It’s traditional, which this opera above all deserves.

    35F1C718-B635-4B52-9C54-DFD4A245ABDE.jpeg
    My recommendations are heavy on Strauss, not because I like him exclusively, but that his operas were staged in the manner I prefer. This is a powerhouse production of Ariadne auf Naxosby the Metropolitan Opera with a cast that makes you glad they were chosen and that they recorded it for posterity.
    Last edited by MAS; Aug-29-2021 at 06:28.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    This famous broadcast of Act II of Tosca with Callas and Gobbi is absolutely essential. If anyone ever doubted the validity or effectiveness of operas as drama, they should be sat down and forced to watch this performance. What a tragedy only Act II was taped.

    Many years ago I used to work at the ENO shop next to the Colisseum in London. Next door to the main shop we had a small video shop where we used to play different videos. Our busiest times were just before performances at the theatre next door but the tiny video shop was always packed with people glued to the TC screen whenever we played this video. It may not be the complete opera but I'd say it was absolutely essential.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post


    This famous broadcast of Act II of Tosca with Callas and Gobbi is absolutely essential. If anyone ever doubted the validity or effectiveness of operas as drama, they should be sat down and forced to watch this performance. What a tragedy only Act II was taped.

    Many years ago I used to work at the ENO shop next to the Colisseum in London. Next door to the main shop we had a small video shop where we used to play different videos. Our busiest times were just before performances at the theatre next door but the tiny video shop was always packed with people glued to the TC screen whenever we played this video. It may not be the complete opera but I'd say it was absolutely essential.
    Indeed. I know two people, one of whom had little interest in opera and the other none, who were knocked out by this performance. If for the rest of my life I had to choose between watching this and watching any and every other performance of Tosca, I'd say, without hesitation, "**** acts 1 and 3!"

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    Senior Member LouisMasterMusic's Avatar
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    Thank you for your suggestions. While I appreciate them all, I was thinking more of ''bread and butter'' repertoire with the odd ''off the beaten track'' opera thrown in. What has been suggested (with the exception of the Mozart, which I own already), is a bit too heavy-going for me. (Otello is another exception). I want operas (and operettas) and performances you would recommend to beginners. Can be any language, but only traditional productions (unless its a comedy). Don't worry about the number 10, let's go for 5 instead.

    Apologies for being an ''slow-learner'' in opera.
    Last edited by LouisMasterMusic; Aug-29-2021 at 11:13.

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    Senior Member Chilham's Avatar
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    If you prefer, "Melody-filled and dramatic", maybe try Donizetti:

    - L'Elizir d'Amore (Villazón and Netrebko have a dvd but I've not seen it)
    - Lucia di Lammermoor
    - La Fille du Regiment (Kaufmann performed at the ROH but don't know if it's on dvd)
    - Don Pasquale

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chilham View Post
    If you prefer, "Melody-filled and dramatic", maybe try Donizetti:

    - L'Elizir d'Amore (Villazón and Netrebko have a dvd but I've not seen it)
    - Lucia di Lammermoor
    - La Fille du Regiment (Kaufmann performed at the ROH but don't know if it's on dvd)
    - Don Pasquale
    I second L'Elisir, La Fille, and Don Pasquale (Don't know Lucia). I would add Bellini's La Sonnambula.
    “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent look guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses.”
    --Malcolm X

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    Senior Member LouisMasterMusic's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your suggestions.Here's some of what I have:

    Italian opera

    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro

    Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte

    Mozart: Don Giovanni

    Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    Rossini: La Cenerentola

    Rossini: La Donna Del Lago

    Rossini: Mose in Egito

    Donizetti: Lucia Di Lammermoor

    Donizetti: L'Elisir D'amore

    Verdi: Nabucco

    Verdi: Ernani

    Verdi: Luisa Miller

    Verdi: Stiffelio

    Verdi: Rigoletto

    Verdi: Il Trovatore

    Verdi: La Traviata

    Verdi: Aida

    Verdi: Otello

    Verdi: Falstaff

    Puccini: Manon Lescaut

    Puccini: La Boheme

    Puccini: Madama Butterfly

    Puccini: Tosca

    Puccini: Turandot

    Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana

    Leoncavallo: Pagliacci

    Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur

    Giordano: Andrea Chenier

    French opera

    Bizet: Carmen

    Bizet: Les Pecheurs De Perles

    Berlioz: Les Troyens

    Gounod: Faust

    Massenet: Manon

    Massenet: Werther

    Saint-Saens: Samson Et Dalila

    Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande

    German opera & operetta

    Mozart: Die Entfurhlung Aus Dem Serail

    Mozart: Die Zauberflote

    Strauss: Die Fledermaus

    Strauss: Der Ziguernerbaron

    Strauss: Eine Nacht in Venedig

    Lehar: Die Lustige Witwe

    Lehar: Das Land Des Lachelns

    Kalman: Die Czardasfurstin

    Russian & other Slavic opera

    Glinka: Ruslan & Lyudmilla.

    Borodin: Prince Igor

    Tchaikovsky: Yevgeny Onyegin

    Dvorak: Rusalka. What a gem! Love the Water Goblin's music in particular. So compelling!

    Janacek: The Cunning Little Vixen

    Opera in English (whether or not by English composers)

    Britten: Peter Grimes

    Gershwin: Porgy and Bess

    Opera Galas

    The Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala

    The Berlin Concert: Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon. Live from the Waldbuhne.

    So, where next? Please suggest 4 traditional productions (from Italian, French and Russian repertory, but leave aside English and German for the moment) and another Gala.
    Last edited by LouisMasterMusic; Aug-29-2021 at 20:57.

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Operetta--Lehar Lland des Lachelns
    Mascagni--L'amico Fritz
    Rossini--Guillaume Tell
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Aug-29-2021 at 15:39.
    “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent look guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses.”
    --Malcolm X

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    Senior Member LouisMasterMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SixFootScowl View Post
    Operetta--Lehar Lland des Lachelns
    Mascagni--L'amico Fritz
    Rossini--Guillaume Tell
    I've got Das Land Des Lachelns. It's difficult to find L'Amico Fritz on DVD. William Tell might be a bit heavy-going for me at the moment.
    Last edited by LouisMasterMusic; Aug-29-2021 at 16:24.

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouisMasterMusic View Post
    I've got Das Land Des Lachelns. It's difficult to find L'Amico Fritz on DVD. William Tell might be a bit heavy-going for me at the moment.
    This is the only DVD and it is a pretty good one.

    Yes Tell is pretty heavy going. I only posted it because it may be Rossini's best. Other than that I am not too excited about Rossini, in spite of an OCD run on Barber of Seville (about 17 CD sets and 13 DVD sets ).
    “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent look guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses.”
    --Malcolm X

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    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    I’m recommending some operas on your list that I once owned, but discarded because I collect only one or two singers. These will, I think, be pleasing.

    B7CAA396-8AA1-43D1-A912-32DC5E209C36.jpeg

    This is a winning production, with a young Bartoli before the mannerisms. Everyone sings fabulously,!too.

    AC25DED5-8C53-4365-9DF9-8C291417CBB9.jpeg

    The legendary Jean-Pierre Ponelle production in a whimsical black-and-white theme with the matchless Frederick von Stade well supported by an expert cast

    CD37B6A2-A16D-4C3C-9C1C-E87D84D524EA.jpeg

    Angela Gheorghiu in a production especially designed for her for her debut at Covent Garden. The critics thought it was the second coming of…?

    FF63B82E-367F-40CB-AAED-D65AB2902FF2.jpeg

    The role of Leonora was one that fit Radvanovsky like a glove, second only to Callas in my view. Everyone else is pretty good, too. The almost S&M relationship between Di Luna and Leonora is very interesting.
    Last edited by MAS; Aug-29-2021 at 16:59.

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    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    I realized I had two recommendations for Rossini’s La Cenerentola. You need both, anyway. So instead, I’m giving you one extra (not on your list) that is my favorite Rossini opera.

    E7D9C7AC-4BC3-4609-B1EC-FF9E4C4E028A.jpeg

    Everyone one sings their lungs out and you must have Marilyn Horne in this role. Legendary.
    As is Ramey as Assur.

    71C4E9C2-E366-44BB-BC1F-FBCBCE0A489F.jpeg

    If you want gala, this one is more recent than the Metropolitan Opera Centenial, but only slightly. You should also get that one!
    Last edited by MAS; Aug-29-2021 at 17:14.

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